First, my best moment. The moment that was everything:
meeting Anika Jane. June 2, 2014.
And now on to the lessons:
1. Forget about “being realistic.” This is an oldie, but goodie. I’ve lost count of how many times someone has told me to “be realistic” about something I deeply desired. I lead with this because whatever it is that you desire for your life, whatever it is that you want to create, whatever that thing is that feels so fucking big as to be impossible–well, it’s possible. Some how, some way. And if you want it badly enough, you’ll find a way to get it.
2. “As in the beginning, so in the middle, so in the end.” In other words, those initial red flags? Don’t explain those away, thinking that surely you must be mis-reading something. Your initial hits about a situation or person tend to show up again (in the middle) and the end (when you’re shaking your head and asking yourself how you ended up here). When you sense that something’s not right, there are two places where you end up: Either you’re on target with your perceptions that something’s off (which means the situation is no bueno), or if you truly are mis-reading something, then you’re going to fight the impulses in your body that are screaming that something’s wrong. Either way, it doesn’t feel good–so keep it simple, and distance yourself from what doesn’t feel good. Whether it was hiring contractors, booking hotels, or proposing workshops, 2014 made it clear that while it’s woo-woo to follow the energy of something, woo is where it’s at. When things were easy-peasy from the get-go, I walked away feeling lifted up. Any time I pushed something through, all I ever got was more pushing.
3. “If you don’t feel comfortable asserting your boundaries, that’s your sign that you shouldn’t work with them.” –Rachael Maddox . I was on the phone with my girl Rach, trying to parse through a sticky hiring situation. Rachael and I started jamming on boundaries, and that’s when she delivered this gem. It hit like a perfectly aimed arrow, helping me to understand why I hadn’t spoken up more, or sooner, and why I’d accepted months of flimsy excuses. Note that this doesn’t just apply to who you hire–it works for romantic relationships, friendships, and any other collaboration.
4. Gratitude for the little things will save your life. In the first few weeks with baby, everything was challenging. My daughter went through a brief period of crying every night, off and on, from approximately five p.m. to ten p.m. Finally (!) she would go to sleep. My husband and I would sit on the couch, sip a glass of wine together, and share five things that we were grateful for. I remember clinging to that little gratitude ritual, because we were so sleep-deprived and wrecked from all the crying, and we knew that in just a few hours she would be awake, again. It was a tiny moment of normalcy between us at a time when everything felt upended. It taught me the power of gratitude in a way that nothing else ever has. (Oh, and–some big gratitude that she stopped crying for five hours a night!).
5. “Self-care” is not a buzzword, not a thing that you tick off the box, not something you should “do more of.” It’s a lifestyle. I’m either living a lifestyle that integrates self-care into its very fibre, or I’m not. There’s no in-between. This is another “lesson from the land of bebe.” I’ve learned that if I want to be the kind of mother that I desire to be, self-care is not something to fit in. It’s the way that I need to live.
6. It’s okay to release relationships where there is not a shared vision. Business relationships. Friendships. Collaborations. Doctors. I’m not talking about giving someone the grand middle finger. I’m talking about acceptance that there isn’t a shared vision for what the two of you would come together to create, and releasing the relationship. One of the “hazards” of being a life coach is that with my understanding that shitty behavior is the result of prior wounding, I’ve been hesitant to release a relationship that wasn’t a match. “They’re wounded; I want to be compassionate,” I’d think. “After all, I’m hardly perfect! I’ve got wounds. I wouldn’t want people to ditch me because of my imperfections.” But this was resulting in various connections that weren’t feeling good and in some cases, being totally taken advantage of. A lesson learned: sometimes, the kindest thing we can do in a situation is release it. Side note: Pema Chodron has written about this. It’s called “idiot compassion.” That term pretty much sums it up.
7. Raising a baby exposes you to more extremes. At least, it has for me. The extremes of joy are highs like no other. My happier moments are far more happy than they ever were, pre-baby. I never get sick of seeing my daughter smile. And the flip-side? The irritation can also be an extreme low. There have been times in the past few months where I’ve had the thought that because my husband left out the butter for the umpteenth time, our marriage was in trouble (luckily, then my common sense catches hold of me). Freaking out about butter? Yeah. Freaking out about butter.
8. I struggle a wee bit more with not being liked, than I had thought. In 2014, I found myself delaying making decisions (so as to be liked for just a little bit longer, until I needed to decide on something and cause some upset); grounding in my “no” to requests yet inwardly writhing (because I really, really felt attached to being liked); not speaking up (so that I could avoid an awkward conversation that might result in not be liked). Inevitably, of course, whether or not I am liked is not something that I can control. The surprise for me in 2014 was seeing how often this came up and needing to remember and re-re-re-remember the lesson of giving up control. It’s always someone else’s choice to decide whether or not they like me, based on something I do or say. My job is my open heart.
9. My priorities are clearer than ever before. I realize that it’s a cliche, but having a baby has brought things into a tighter focus. I had already considered myself someone who just didn’t have time for bullshit. But now? After baby? Now I really (really!) don’t have time for bullshit. Bullshit like endless hours of Facebook or cable television surfing. Bullshit like trying to negotiate peace in relationships where I’m the only one wanting to negotiate. Bullshit like not taking care of myself with exercise or nourishing food so that I can show up for my daughter in the way that I want to. If I want time for family + business + self, then I need to trim away the bullshit.
10. I’m capable of more than I had thought I was (and the mantra, “I dunno, but I’ll figure it out” really helps). I wondered how motherhood was going to affect…everything. But somehow, I delivered. When Entrepreneur Magazine asked if I’d become a weekly contributor, when Danielle LaPorte and her team reached out to me to ask if I’d be one of the first beta testers to run Desire Map workshops before they formally debuted to licensees, and when they followed up by asking if I’d shoot a series of teaching-related videos…I felt a “yes” in my body followed by, “But how am I going to manage that?” followed by, “I dunno, but I’ll figure it out.” And, I did. Or, I should say, we did, since this was a family effort–my husband pitched in with child care (and I returned the favor when a concept he submitted for an art and music festival was accepted for a public art installation). We figured out schedules, coordinated pick ups and drop offs with day care, and I hustled (Van McCoy style) with my work.
That’s my 2014 recap–by far and away the most challenging of my life, but also without question, the most joyful. Want to complete your own? Check out the free 2015 Courageous Living Planner, available until January 15, 2015.